Research Paper for Composition

Research Paper for Composition - Atkins 1 Theidre Atkins...

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Atkins 1 Theidre Atkins Composition Professor Harbin December 14 th , 2006 The Serial Killer Complex: The Characteristics of a Probable Serial Killer From August 1 st , 1982 to November 30 th 2001, “Green River Strangler” Gary Leon Ridgway kidnapped, raped and murdered forty-eight prostitutes in the Seattle and Tacoma areas in Washington (Gary Leon Ridgway). Though the authorities eventually caught Ridgway and brought him to justice, they were never able to make a good assessment as to why he killed so many prostitutes. Though they tried formulating different hypotheses, (i.e. he was sexually assaulted as a child, he hated women and/or he had some form of antisocial personality disorder) they could not come to a simple reason as to what drove Ridgway to commit his crimes. This leads into the bigger question of what makes a killer kill. Though there are many answers to this question, the best science suggests that there are possible personality traits that could make an individual more likely to commit murder. These personality traits include but are not limited to, the MacDonald triad (bedwetting, pyromania and cruelty to animals), the appearance of antisocial personality disorder and the presence of some form of sexual abuse. These factors, though debatable, are considered to be the most helpful in gaining access into the unsheltered territory of the serial killer mind.
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Atkins 2 One of the most definable yet debatable components that scientists use to classify possible serial killers is the MacDonald triad. First developed in 1963 by J.M. MacDonald, the MacDonald triad consists of “three major personality traits in children that are said to be the warning signs for the tendency to become a serial killer” (MacDonald Triad). These personality traits include fire starting, cruelty to animals, and enuresis (bedwetting) (MacDonald Triad). Firestarting is the obsession to purposefully start fires in order to destroy an object. In normal children, firestarting is a simple exploration of activity. They choose to engage in the activity because they are intrigued by the bright, coloring of the flickering flames. It is an innocent form of experimentation that eventually recesses as the years progress. However, in a “budding” serial killer, pyromania is more than just an innocent curiosity. Their fascination with fire is an “early manifestation of their future fondness for the destruction of human life” (Common Characteristics of a Serial Killer). The dramatic destruction of property feeds the same horrific desire to destroy people. Because serial killers do not see other humans as more than objects, the leap between setting fires and killing people is easy to make (What Makes a Serial Killer Tick?). For example, George Adorno, the teenage thrill killer that was sentenced to fifteen years to life for murdering several people, set his sister on fire at the age of five (ADORNO, George). David Berkowitz, the notorious “Son of Sam” killer who murdered sixty people in New
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This note was uploaded on 03/20/2008 for the course SOCI 1101 taught by Professor Beck during the Spring '08 term at UGA.

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Research Paper for Composition - Atkins 1 Theidre Atkins...

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